IMBOLC – A SPIRITUAL SABBAT
By February, most of us are tired of the cold, snowy season. Imbolc reminds us that spring is coming soon, and that we only have a few more weeks of winter to go. The sun gets a little brighter, the earth gets a little warmer, and we know that life is quickening within the soil. There are a number of different ways to celebrate this Sabbat.
Rituals and Ceremonies
Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Imbolc. Some people focus on the Celtic goddess Brighid, in her many aspects as a deity of fire and fertility. Others aim their rituals more towards the cycles of the season, and agricultural markers. Here are a few rituals you may want to think about trying. Imbolc is a time of celebration and ritual, often honoring Brighid, the goddess of the hearth. This is also a time of new beginnings and of purification. Celebrate the Imbolc season by performing rites and rituals that honor the themes of the end of winter.
Imbolc House Cleansing Ceremony
Many people have gotten into the habit of doing a spring cleaning, and it’s a good way to get yourself inspired. Once you’ve done a physical cleaning, invite your loved ones to join you in a spiritual cleansing as well.
Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)
Imbolc is also known as Candlemas, and is considered a festival of fire. If you practice as a solitary, this ritual is a good one to do if you want to honor the aspects of fire and light that are observed on this day. Celebrate Imbolc with this fiery (yet simple) ritual.
Hold a Farewell to Winter Ritual
Tired of the snow and cold weather yet? At Imbolc, you and your family can do this simple rite to say goodbye to old man winter, and encourage the spring thaw to come along a bit sooner.
Imbolc Prayers – Prayers for the Imbolc Sabbat
If you’re looking for prayers or blessings to celebrate the Sabbat of Imbolc, here’s where you’ll find a selection of devotionals that bid farewell to the winter months and honor the goddess Brighid.
Imbolc Meal Blessings
Imbolc is the celebration of the hearth goddess Brighid. Use one of these meal blessings as part of your Imbolc celebrations.
Brighid’s Fire Meal Blessing
Use this meal blessing to celebrate the fires of hearth and home.
Giving Thanks to Brighid Meal Blessing
Use this meal blessing in ceremonies honoring Brighid, the Irish goddess of hearth and home.
End of Winter Meal Blessing
Use this meal blessing in your ceremonies celebrating the end of winter.
Smooring the Fire – A Prayer to Brighid
The folklorist Alexander Carmichael collected hundreds of poems in prayers in his Carmina Gadelica. This is one variation on the theme of smooring the fire at Imbolc.
Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge
In her aspect as a goddess of the forge, Brighid is often seen as Brigantia, a warrior protectress of those who would swear her loyalty.
Brighid, Bride of Earth
In her role as the bride, Brighid is the patroness of domesticity and home. She also is associated with the Fae and the Tuatha de Danaan in Irish legend.
Brighid, Keeper of the Flame
Pay tribute to the hearth goddess Brighid, with this prayer honoring her role as the keeper of sacred flames.
Imbolc End-of-Winter Meditation
Say Farewell to the Dark Half of the Year
This meditative journey is one you can read ahead of time, and then recall as you meditate, or you can record yourself reading it aloud, and listen to it as a guided meditation later on. You can even read it aloud as part of a group ritual. The ideal place to perform this meditation is somewhere outside — try to pick a day that’s warm, or at the very least sunny. Go out in your garden, or sit under a tree in a park, or find a quiet spot near a stream.
Visualize yourself walking along a path. You are traveling through a forest, and as you walk, you notice that the trees are covered with the vibrant hues of autumn. There are reds, oranges, and yellows everywhere. A few leaves have fallen on the ground beside you, and the the air is cool and crisp. Stand for a moment, and take in the scent of fall.
As you continue down the path, you see the sky getting darker. The air has become more brisk, and the leaves are gently falling around you. Soon, the trees are bare, and there is a crunching sound beneath you. When you look down, the leaves are no longer bright with autumn’s colors. Instead, they are brown and brittle, and there is a light touch of frost on them. Winter has arrived. Breathe deeply, so that you can smell and taste the difference in the air.
The darkness is full now, but above you there is a full moon lighting your way. A snowflake falls in front if you, drifting down ever so slowly. Soon another drifts down, and another. As you walk further, the snow begins to fall heavily. The crunch of your feet on the leaves is muffled, and soon you can’t hear anything at all. A blanket of pure white snow covers the forest floor, and everything is quiet, and still. There is a sense of magic in the air — a feeling of being in some other, special place. The real world has vanished with the sun, and all that remains now is you, and the darkness of winter. The snow glistens in the moonlight, and the night is cold. You can see your breath before you in the moonlit air.
As you continue through the forest, you begin to see a faint glimmer of light ahead. Unlike the silvery light of the moon, this is red and bright. You are beginning to get colder now, and the idea of warmth and light is promising. You walk on, and the red light draws closer. There is something special about it, something of relief and change and warmth.
You walk through the snow, up a steep path, and the snow is now up to your knees. It is becoming more difficult to travel, and you’re cold. All you want, more than anything, is a warm fire, and some hot food, and the companionship of your loved ones. But it seems that there is nothing but you and the snow and the night. It seems as though the light has grown closer, and yet is still unreachable. Eventually, you give up — there’s no reaching it, and you just keep walking through the snow.
As you come over the hillside, though, something happens. The forest is no longer surrounding you — in fact, there are only a few trees left on this side of the hill. Off in the distance, to the east, the sun is rising. You continue on the path, and the snow fades away. No longer are you walking through great drifts — instead, you are on a muddy track, crossing an open field. In the meadow are tiny buds. Grass is peeking up from the dead, brown earth. Here and there, a cluster of bright flowers appears beside a stone, or beside the path. As you walk, the sun rises higher and higher, bright and orange in its glory. Its warmth embraces you, and soon your night of cold and darkness is forgotten.
Spring has come, and new life abounds. Flowers and vines are beginning to grow, and the earth is no longer dead and brown, but vibrant and fertile. As you walk in the sun’s warmth, you realize that winter has truly left you, and that you are renewed and reborn once more. Stand and bask in the light for a few minutes. Meditate on what sort of abundance you are looking forward to this season. Think about what you will plant in your own garden, and what new life you will bring forth.
Imbolc Traditions, Customs and Folklore
Ever wonder why we celebrate Imbolc the way we do? From the ancient Roman festival of Februalia to the legend of St. Valentine, this time of year is rich in custom and tradition. Learn about some of the folklore and history behind today’s Imbolc celebrations.
The ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia in the middle of February. Learn how this Pagan celebration was an early version of Valentine’s Day.
As times and spiritual needs changed, a number of different gods and goddesses were honored during the celebration of Februalia. This is a time of purification and cleansing, as well as of making offerings to the divine.
Learn about the Roman festival of Sementivae, which falls every year during the Imbolc season.
Brighid was an Irish hearth goddess who is still celebrated today by many Pagans. Learn about the different myths and legends associated with her, as well as rituals, prayers, and craft projects you can do in her honor.
All excerpts from Patti Wigington on about.com